Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (Alex Gibney, 2008): USA

Reviewed by Alex Kiluauno. Viewed on Pay-per-view TV.

I always find myself sitting in front of my television late at nightdeciding how to waste $4.99. Often times it’s pretty easy, I will find a movie that is semi-entertaining and order it on pay per view. Most of the time I will either fall asleep or get tired and find something else to do. Then recently I ordered a documentary on the life and work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson titled Gonzo. As a fan of Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas I felt obligated to watch. After viewing the film I was left in awe. Cold hands against my face, eyes wide open with my jaw dropped. I was left emotionally stunned by the film.

Throughout the film we are given a narration, given by a familiar voice. Like that of a Johnny Deep narrating Blow, and it is, the Johnny Deep, who lived with and played Hunter S. Thompson for Fear and Loathing. Not to say he is the only star of the film; we are given
interviews from Sonny Barger (leader of the gang Hell’s Angels) to Jimmy Carter (America’s 39th President). We learn about this man through interviews of people whom he have met, befriended and loved.

Only after viewing Gonzo could I have learned about a man that lived the life of Hunter S. Thompson. Although he was being paid as a journalist, his job was to open the eyes of America. His written stories dealt with what was going on in America. This writer wasn’t afraid to piss people off, what he published is what he wanted to say. And this film shows just that.

However what goes up must come down. To me the film gave off a low budget feel at times, with using corny footage trying to show how Dr. Hunter S. Thompson lived. By using an actor, and reenacting parts of his life. Something that felt seemed a little unnecessary. But what saved the film from being a flop were the old footage, pictures and tapes used in making the film. With the use of his lost tapes from interviewing the Hell’s Angels to him running for Sheriff in Aspen Colorado. We are given the real essence of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, with the use of his old footage.

Nonetheless the film Gonzo is a beautiful documentary about one man’s life and work. However corny at times, this film is saved by the true and real events this man had once done. Having said that, the film was worth every penny.

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